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View Diary: Fracking does cause earthquakes (62 comments)

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  •  the only thing that surprises me (11+ / 0-)

    is that this is being presented by the media as "news."

    as a geology undergrad -- in the mid 1980s -- i'd learned about hydrofracking and its role as contributing factor to seismic events.

    glad to see it getting covered, though

    "i hear you're mad about brubeck ... i like your eyes. i like him too." -donald fagen

    by homo neurotic on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 01:52:27 PM PDT

    •  That it is connected to seismicity is known (2+ / 0-)

      but there is dispute as to how large an earthquake you might be talking about.

      I think it's unlikely they can "create" large earthquakes, but it could change the timing of large earthquakes. So then the next question would be, is that acceptable.

      Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

      by elfling on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 02:55:00 PM PDT

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      •  i left the matter of magnitude (4+ / 0-)

        entirely alone. point taken.

        i'll counter, however, with the observation that a little seismicity can go a long way -- damage wise -- in areas that are not otherwise predisposed to such (i.e., say, Texas...), and also at very small scale if the soil conditions are such that any shaking might be exacerbated (see: (land)fill, liquefaction)

        "i hear you're mad about brubeck ... i like your eyes. i like him too." -donald fagen

        by homo neurotic on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 03:00:27 PM PDT

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      •  Small faults (4+ / 0-)

        under the pressure of injection wells can cause large earthquakes. It happened in Arkansas in [2011 earthquake.usgs.gov/earthquakes/dyfi/events/nm/1182/us/index.html]. That's just a plain old fact. Injection wells are not allowed here any longer, so the frackers take their poison water to Oklahoma.

        "Let each unique song be sung and the spell of differentiation be broken" - Winter Rabbit

        by cotterperson on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 03:58:37 PM PDT

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        •  A 4.1 is not a large earthquake (3+ / 0-)

          To give you perspective, if you're quite near the epicenter, it feels a lot like a sonic boom or something like that - a quick, small jolt.

          (Even on the map you show, it has shaking intensity; the highest rating is light/no damage.)

          Earthquakes in the 5+ range are where you start to see minor damage to vulnerable structures.

          Arkansas is an area where there is known seismicity, just not frequent seismicity.

          Typically a large earthquake happens because of enormous stresses in the crust as plates are moving relative to each other. Injecting water could certainly ease the friction and cause the fault to break in a particular place or sooner, but it is not known to create the enormous energy required for a truly damaging earthquake, which comes from a pre-stressed crust.

          There is question about how big these localized water-created earthquakes could be - and the answer seems to be bigger than we thought - and you can possibly imagine particular arrangements where injecting water could amplify stress.

          Now, none of this is to defend fracking in particular, or to say that we should do it willy-nilly and find out. The potential for contaminating our water supply is IMHO especially chilling. It's just part of my mission to help people better understand earthquakes, and to keep our arguments defensible and grounded.

          Fry, don't be a hero! It's not covered by our health plan!

          by elfling on Thu Jul 11, 2013 at 08:15:49 PM PDT

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